Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Adventures of a Rare (And Not So Rare) Book Collector

Lev Grossman chats about his book collecting habits for Time Magazine.

From the piece...

I love rare books. Not that I own a lot of them, mind you. You couldn’t quite call me a rare-book collector. But I did once work in a rare-books library, and I wrote a novel about a rare book. And I was once married to a rare-books dealer. So I’ve checked off a few of the boxes anyway.

But the books I collect are mostly not all that rare. They don’t tend to have a lot of value, in the monetary sense, because I personally don’t have a lot of value in the monetary sense.

My specialty as a collector is books that almost have value. When I love a book, I don’t buy the first edition, because those have become incredibly expensive. But I might buy a beat-up copy of the second edition, third printing, which looks almost exactly the same as the first edition except that a couple of typos have been fixed. (In the rare book trade the little details that definitively identify a first edition are called “points.” My books are not strong on points.) It’s not glamorous, but it’s still satisfying, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.

And once in a while I have lucked into an actual first edition, just to make things interesting.

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